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Is Hillary Clinton really a ‘Court Street Lawyer?’

Chuck Otey's Pro Bono Barrister

April 27, 2015 By Charles F. Otey, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Is Hillary Clinton really a Court Street Lawyer? AP Photo/Jim Cole, File
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Following a well-publicized alleged rape case against a Court Street lawyer that didn’t merit an indictment — despite wildly inaccurate, damning headlines in some newspapers — the term “Court Street Lawyer” has been the topic of much discussion.

Over the years, those of us who have maintained Court Street offices have been aware that the “Court Street Lawyer” descriptive has often been inappropriately and unfairly used, sometimes by the “white shoe” crew on Wall Street and often in “The Press,” wherein lawyers — especially judges — have been routinely castigated for centuries.

When presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced that she was placing her national campaign at One Pierrepont Plaza, some suggested that Clinton — due at least to proximity — was becoming a “Court Street Lawyer.”

After all, lawyers on Remsen, Montague and Joralemon have been generically described as part of the “Court Street Lawyer” community, so it would seem that Clinton should not be arbitrarily disqualified from this particular distinction.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

To obtain a legitimate determination here, we have called upon Richard Klass, with offices at 16 Court St., who doesn’t mind being called “Your Court Street Lawyer.” As of press time, we hadn’t heard back from barrister Klass, who most certainly has a relevant observation in Clinton’s case.

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De Blasio’s Refusal to Back Hillary Hurts Him More Than Her

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision – which he surprisingly proclaimed on national television, no less – that he has not decided whether to back Clinton in the presidential race seems sure to do him a lot more damage than his one-time political mentor.

It might be a little different if there were a few other likely Democrats in the running – Democrats who were viable and offered solid alternatives to Hillary’s policies. There aren’t. By saying he’s waiting to see what the policies of the Democratic candidate(s) might be, he’s sending the clear message that Clinton’s policies stand too far to the political center, far away from the left, which he now sees as his base.

From a strictly political point of view, most observers agree that Clinton must move toward the center if she is to win key states like Ohio, Florida and Colorado. New York City is an anomaly in the national political picture, which is why de Blasio got elected in the first place. Most New Yorkers are simply not aware of how much we are resented in the red states.

Secretly, the Clinton people may be hoping de Blasio ultimately endorses the brilliant and very liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren, should the Massachusetts senator decide to run. Such a move would help establish Clinton’s bona fides with more moderate voters in the above-cited states, which will be pivotal in 2016.

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Kings Inn CLE Topic: Trying to Reverse the Tide in Closing Argument

Panel Led by Judge Theresa Ciccotto Will Help Lawyers Avoid ‘Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory’

A challenge that every trial lawyer has faced — “Trying to Reverse the Tide in Closing Argument” — will be tackled head-on when the Kings County American Inn of Court, led by President Dave Chidekel, gathers Tuesday evening, April 28, for its regular CLE-accredited session at Brooklyn Bar Association headquarters, 123 Remsen St.

Too often a lawyer whose case may be proceeding very well has “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory” by trying to do too much in his/her final address to the jury. This is one of the pitfalls the Inn members will deal with that night.

A highly respected panel — led by Hon. Theresa Ciccotto, Steve Goolnick and Mark Longo — will help Inn members probe this very relevant topic on April 28. In keeping with the Inn’s collegiality theme, administrator Lucy DiSalvo advises that a delicious buffet will be provided beforehand, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Other Inn officers include President-elect Justice Arthur Schack, Counselor Justice Miriam Cyrulnik and Treasurer Jon Besunder.

Inn founders include Justice Marsha Steinhardt, retired Justices Gerard Rosenberg and Abraham Gerges and former Justice Edward Rappaport, who is now the president emeritus.

Among those serving as inn masters are Justice Carl Landicino, Judge Joanne Quinones, Hon. Barry Kamins, Justice Ellen Spodek, Appellate Division Justices Cheryl Chambers and Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Hon. Gloria Cohen Aronin, Steve Harkavy and Goolnick.

Inn executive director is Jeffrey Feldman.

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Are Legal Actions Invading Otherwise Legal Sexual Situations?

Sometimes it seems that the law is being invoked a little too often these days, even when it comes to private sexual behavior involving couples.

Thursday’s New York Post splashed a huge story — with photos of the “actors” — with this headline: ‘Loudest Lovers’ in NY Stir Nabe Rage.

A neighbor of a Bay Ridge couple reportedly complained of the privacy-challenged couple, “I’m on the second floor, and I hear them all the time. When I come [home] in the night from work, a girl screaming every night … She (keeps) screaming … Saturdays, it’s louder. About 30 minutes to an hour, sometimes more than an hour.”

Aiding and abetting the offended neighbor, the writers of the story (whose names we also won’t use here) created this statement: “Witnesses say the screams of ecstasy echo (from the first floor) through the six-story building.”

While it wouldn’t be appropriate to use the names of this particular couple, it can safely be noted that the pre-war building involved is a big apartment complex, with thick brick walls, which takes up much of a block at 72nd Street and Ridge Boulevard in Bay Ridge. Its solid walls — especially in the record cold, when all windows are closed — make it difficult, if not impossible, for screams to be heard from one floor to another.

Reportedly this spate of sexual rumbling is spread throughout the city and the Post reporters used a web source known as DNAinfo, which reported it “found that 133 total complaints were filed over loud sex between Jan. 1, 2014 and February 2015, with 42 of them being reported in Kings County.”

DNAinfo seems to have garnered these statistics(?) by combing through all of the non-emergency 311 calls that the civil complaint system received last October through December. While any attorney would wonder why the alleged “perps” in Bay Ridge seemingly waived their rights of privacy by giving an interview and, possibly, photographs to the reporters, it’s hard to imagine that the woman and man had any idea that the final story would contain so many intimate and revealing details about their sex life.

We wonder if we’ll soon be reading about lawsuits against various parties connected with publishing this extraordinary story. At the very least, this situation is a clear example of TMI (too much information) being available during the explosive Internet Age.

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Then There’s the “Rape” Charge Against Husband of Aging Wife

Another seemingly incredible case that emerged this past week saw a jury in Iowa return a “not guilty” verdict regarding charges lodged against a 78-year-old husband accused of raping his 80-year-old wife in a nursing home where she was staying while afflicted with Alzheimer’s.   

Henry Rayhons, a former state legislator, strenuously denied that he sexually abused his wife by having sex with her after nursing home staff members told him she was cognitively unable to give consent.

He said that he had “a mutually loving relationship with his wife” but, nevertheless, faced a felony charge that could have put him in prison for up to 10 years. There were no eyewitnesses, since whatever happened took place within a shrouded bed.

Rayhons testified that his wife, Donna Rayhons, “continued to desire and even initiate sexual contact.”

Regardless, he said they had just kissed and held hands after he drew a curtain around her bed.

Based on initial reports, these very unusual charges resulted in complaints from the Rayhons’ two daughters, one of whom was her mother’s legal guardian. While it’s very important that current court rulings protect the rights of even officially married partners to “just say no,” it’s difficult to understand why the Iowa prosecutor in this case acted on such apparently flimsy evidence.

One blog writer, responding to the Rayhons prosecution verdict, spoke for a lot of us when he wrote, “Sometimes it seems like we’re heading toward a world where everything is either illegal or required by law. When I first saw headlines about this, I assumed there was some violence or injury involved, or at least that there had been obvious vocal or physical resistance. Having read this article, it seems like the classic definition of prosecutorial overreach.”


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